Friday, March 30, 2007

Yellow Lace

"I remember being at a cousin's wedding when I was about 3 or 4. It is hard to separate what I recall because of photos etc but the thing that I know I do actually remember is the dress I had for the occasion. It was a totally gorgeous girlie lemon and white lacy sticky out sort of affair and although the rest of the wedding is very vague and I don't think I have any true recall of it - I do most certainly remember that dress and how much I loved it!"

BBC Radio 4 Memory Experience

Memory Lace

"The fabric of his body had been riven irreparably, and his memory had become like a scrap of old lace--yellowed, frayed, and more gaps than threads. The tenuous, unpredictable strands of lucidity that lingered in the tangled knots of his mind only heightened the anguish of their breaking. He had been sent home with his young wife to languish in the spectre-haunted borderlands between dreams and death as the remainder of his legendary strength slowly slipped away."

Anguis, Memory like old lace

Lacy pattern

"One of my early memories is of having a recurring dream. I would dream it up to about the age of five. I would be inside a strange sphere, which was dark but with a bright lacy red pattern all around me. I was aware of brightness behind the lacy pattern, and the redness of it seemed to glow. I always felt very safe, and the pattern would swing slowly round me. Then often I would feel a sudden jolt downwards and I woke. It was only as an adult that I realised I must have been dreaming about what I had seen and experienced inside the womb. For some reason when I was a child I vaguely associated it with a circus because that was the only thing I had reference to at that age, so it was "the circus dream". But more than fifty years later my mental picture of it is still very vivid."

BBC Radio 4 Memory Experience


"In fairy tales, as in mythos, the carpet signifies a form of locomotion, but of a certain kind - the kind that enables us to see into the world and into the underlife as well. In the Middle Eastern stories, it is the vehicle for spirit flight of the shamans. The body is no dumb thing from which we struggle to free ourselves. In proper perspective, it is a rocket ship, a series of atomic cloverleaves, a tangle of neurological umbilici to other worlds and experiences."

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women who run with the Wolves, Ryder, London 1992, p.205

Superior Renewal Elastic

1. Cut off worn elastic

2. Attach renewal elastic by machining round frill side, holding the elastic at a tension that will allow a smooth fit round the top of the garment. Increased pressure on the machine foot will assist machining on tension.

3. If attached by hand, first tack around the frill and then complete with normal hem stitching

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Prince Charming's leg - embroidery pattern

Das Bein des Maerchenprinzen - Stickmuster

Mother's Day

Textile gifts for Mother's Day from my teenage daughters:

one gave my pretty pink and flowery knickers, the other gave me a T-shirt on which she had printed a quote from 'House', her favourite TV series:

"The eyes can mislead, the smile can lie, but the shoes always tell the truth."

Flowers on black

"I begin: the first memory.

This was of red and purple flowers on a black ground - my mother's dress; and she was sitting either in a train or in an omnibus and I was on her lap. I therefore saw the flowers she was wearing very close; and can still see purple and red and blue, I think, against the black; they must have been anemones, I suppose."

Virginia Woolf, A Sketch of the Past, in Virgina Woolf, Moments of Being (ed. Jeanne Schulkind), Grafton Books, London 1990, p.72

Behind closed curtains

"I remember very clearly the day my father died. I was six years old. A neighbour collected me from school and took me to her house. I remember the curtains being closed in our front room and asking why. I don't think I got an answer."

"When I was five years old my mother attempted to commit suicide. I don't feel upset when I remember it. I remember the jumper I was wearing was blue with a white stripe and that Asterix and Cleopatra was on the TV, and that it was a sunny day but the curtains were drawn."

A great-aunt was dying, everyone was up in the bedroom with her. Sitting alone in a highly ornamented room, heavy silk curtains looped with sashes, thick lace curtains underneath them, a huge apidistra, gilt-framed pictures, oval photographs of old people. I knew she would be off to heaven and sat wondering if I might catch a glimpse of her through the curtains, ascending."

My maternal grandmother died from cancer a month after my third birthday. I don't remember her death. I used to go into her room and open the curtains for her."

Source: BBC Radio 4 Memory Experience

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A favourite top

I bought a lovely stripy top 5 years ago in the Monsoon summer sale. It had a flattering V-neck and short cut sleeves just covering the shoulders. Pinks and reds - I loved the colours. I wore it throughout the year, in the winter with a cardign. At some point I spilled a bit of bleach on it, but it was still sort of wearable - though unfortunately stains are always in a place where they can't be easily disguised with a flower or brooch. A few days ago, tempted by early spring sunshine to dig out the top, I put it on and spilled glue on it. It doesn't come off. I feel sad - though on closer inspection the top has clearly seen better days anyway and does not fit like it used to. Still, I hesitate many times before finally cutting into it. Time to move on.


Michel Pastoureau, The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes and Striped Fabric, Columbia University Press 2001

"Devil's Cloth begins with a medieval scandal. When the first Carmelites arrived in France from the Holy Land, the religious order required its members to wear striped habits, prompting turmoil and denunciations in the West that lasted fifty years until the order was forced to accept a quiet, solid color. The medieval eye found any surface in which a background could not be distinguished from a foreground disturbing. Thus, striped clothing was relegated to those on the margins or outside the social order—jugglers and prostitutes, for example—and in medieval paintings the devil himself is often depicted wearing stripes. The West has long continued to dress its slaves and servants, its crewmen and convicts in stripes.

But in the last two centuries, stripes have also taken on new, positive meanings, connoting freedom, youth, playfulness, and pleasure. Witness the revolutionary stripes on the French and United States flags. In a wide-ranging discussion that touches on zebras, awnings, and pajamas, augmented by illustrative plates, the author shows us how stripes have become chic, and even, in the case of bankers' pin stripes, a symbol of taste and status. However, make the stripes too wide, and you have a gangster's suit—the devil's cloth indeed!"


"A bouncer at the Opus restaurant and nightclub has decided that stripy shirts - the enduringly inoffensive candy-coloured barcode design favoured by bankers and Sloanes - do not meet the venue's dress code.

'In my experience, people who wear stripy shirts are trouble-causers and scallies,' Opus's club manager is alleged to have said to a group of 24 aspirant entrants, one of whom had the temerity to wear a striped shirt....

But how does wearing innocent stripes allude to trouble-making? Horizontal stripes conjure up visions of Breton sailors and pie-eyed rugger buggers. And vertical stripes? Just what is going on here?

The people at Opus, acutely aware of the international incident they may have caused with what we must now call 'Stripygate', will only clarify their clobber restriction thus: 'We would state that our dress policy excludes certain branded, striped and checked shirts and tops at the discretion of door staff and management...'"

Simon Mills, In Manchester, it's three stripes and you are out, in The Guardian newspaper, 6.2.07

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Red velvet

"Like iron, fire, bronze, wool, and the silk of which it is the highest woven expression, velvet has accompanied the transformation of civilisation throughout time in art and in daily life."

Fabricio de' Marinis, The Realm of the Senses, in F. de' Marinis (ed), Velvet: History, Techniques, Fashions, Idea Books, Milan 1994, p.9

Black velvet

"The mere mention of the material to my brother-in-law is enough to make him wince - just the way you do when a sadistic schoolteacher scratches chalk across a blackboard. 'It's a teeth thing,' he says, 'Like when ice-cream sends a shock to the nerve.'"

Lucy Ryder Richardson, See me, feel me, touchme, in The Independent newspaper, 3.1.2002, p.8

Green velvet

"He had never known such gallantry as the gallantry of Scarlet O'Hara going forth to conquer the world in her mother's velvet curtains and the tail feathers of a rooster."

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind, Macmillan & Co Ltd, London 1938, p.551

Dark velvet

"Having my photograph taken aged 2. The photographer's studio was very dark yet I wasn't afraid just felt nurtured. Remember the rich feel of the velvet fabric I sat on."

BBC Radio 4 Memory Experience

Blue velvet

"Set in a small American town, "Blue Velvet" is a dark, sensuous mystery involving the intcrtwining lives of four very different individuals: Jeffrey, the naive college student with a penchant for mysteries; Dorothy, the haunting cabaret singer with a dark and deadly secret; Sandy, the detective's daughter who embodies the innocence in all of us; and Frank, the psychotic killer fueled by his own sexual fantasies. The film's painful realism reminds us that we are not immune to the disturbing events which transpire in "Blue Velvet's" sleepy community. There is a darker side of life waiting for us all."

Press release,

"... the director used velvet to symbolise America's soft seductive surface with its wicket perversity lurking underneath."

Lucy R. Richardson, See me, feel me, touch me. The Independent, 3.1.2002, p.8

Monday, March 05, 2007

Flower patterns

"A ‘daisy’ dress and a brightly coloured beach ball. I clearly remember them, both associated together. In my 30s I finally came across a box of my father’s old slides, he’d never had printed. There were a series of shots taken of me wearing the famous daisy dress and playing with the ball."

Source: BBC Radio 4 Memory Experience

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Crochet made with telephone wire
(sample for chrochet sculpture in the shape of an exclamation mark, titled "Hello!" - in private collection)

"The yarn is neither metaphorical nor literal, but quite simply material, a gathering of threads which twist and turn through the history of computing, technology, the sciences and arts. In and out of the punched holes of automated looms, up and down through the ages of spinning and weaving, back and forth through the fabrication of fabrics, shuttles and looms, cotton and silk, canvas and paper, brushes and pens, typewriters, carriages, telephone wires, synthetic fibres, electric filaments, silicon strands, fiber-optic cables, pixeled screens, telecom lines, the World Wide Web, the net, and matrixes to come."

Sadie Plant, Zeroes and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture, Fourth Estate, London 1997, p. 12

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Unravelling wool

"Even when a knitted garment is torn and worn, there is generally enough good yarn left in it for re-knitting into something smaller, or for combining with other wool to make another garment.

Unpick all seams carefully, avoiding cutting the loops of wool so that there will not be too many joins. Commence unravelling the garment from the cast-off edge, pulling gently to disengage the loops. As the wool is freed, wind it round a large book, pastry board, or other suitable article.

When a good amount of wool has been wound up in this way, take it carefully off the book and tie it in three or four places to make a skein.

After unpicking the whole garment in this way, wash the skeins gently in soapy water, or, if necessary, dye them. It is not always necessary to re-dye patchy wool as the uneven colour can be quite attractive when re-knitted, providing the contrast is not too violent. Now thread or tie the wet skeins on a line to dry, fastening a weight on to the bottom of them, to take out the crinkles."

Jane Foster & Margaret Murray, Modern Knitting Illustrated, Odhams Press Limited, Long Acre, London WC2, n.d. (1945 or before), p. 250